Listed below are our past case studies in chronological order, most recent first.
SCOUT Interfaces for PXI
Reducing total cost of ownership by trimming cabling cost for a PXI-based printed circuit board functional tester.
One specific medical customer, that builds medical grade test systems in-house, selected PXI hardware for its smaller footprint, but the cabling methods did not meet the requirements of the high-performance automated test system. MAC Panel interconnect technologies assisted in eliminating many cables between the PXI system and the device under test (DUT), while still allowing for user customization.
Our customer defined a test bed for its wireless device test that needed to operate within the industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) radio band to ensure the RF signal integrity met FDA reported requirements. The focus of the tester needed to be on all protocols within the 2.4 GHz ISM band, including Bluetooth, ZigBee, and IEEE Standard 802.11. The tester also focused upon functional level tests of the power supply, user interface, and human engineering features.
They complemented the PXI modular instrument hardware with off-the-shelf software libraries to simplify application generation. Next, they defined an interchangeable DUT interface so as to define a common tester, but with lower costs and reduced cabling. Cabling was a specific concern because of the engineering costs associated with duplicating the test platform. Human errors made by connecting the numerous cables, and the time required to validate, was not easily repeatable.
SCOUT Dual Tier
A major manufacturer of power sources had the requirement to do parallel burn-in/life-cycle testing of large production runs of product. The requirement included the need to minimize set-up time between test runs, decrease the complexity of the physical connections between the UUTs and the ATE, and provide a repeatable and reliable solution that could be easily implemented in a high volume production environment.
Their existing test system was very cumbersome and often times resulted in set-up errors. They were utilizing traditional rack and stack instruments that required the a variety of cables to connect to the units under test. This resulted in time consuming set-ups between test and produced unacceptable test cycle times. Due to the myriad of cables and low life-cycle connectors needed to execute the test set-up, many measurement stability and quality errors were being introduced.
The customer realized that they needed to find an alternative solution in order to predictably meet their production requirements. The test strategy required massive switching and needed to be capable of withstanding repetitive set-ups without failure. The customer, recognizing the benefits of PXI modular instrumentation and mass interconnect capability, decided to engage MAC Panel to investigate a solution. Because of the large number of signals needed, it became apparent that requirements exceeded the capability of a standard PXI chassis.
A MAC Panel customer had an existing PXI ATE setup that was capable of testing a small family of products. The interface between the PXI instrumentation and the units under test was implemented as follows:
This test set had a number of inherent problems. Connections at the terminal blocks were often intermittent, with the wire sometimes breaking at the terminal block. The wiring was very hard to maintain, and sometimes the effort to fix one wire would cause other wires to break. Design changes were hard to implement and sometimes either wires would be omitted, or wires that needed to be removed would be left in place. Troubleshooting was tedious and sometimes destructive.
Due to a large increase in demand for their products, our customer needed an additional 20 test sets as quickly as possible. The effort to reliably replicate their existing design was not a viable option.
NGATS STA Field Support Kit (FSK)
MAC Panel was awarded the contract to provide the IEEE 1505 compliant Common Test Interface (CTI) and a production-ready Self Test Adapter (STA) to the primary defense contractor for the U.S. Army NGATS program. Since several of the NGATS systems and associated STAs were to be deployed throughout the globe, often times in harsh environments, effective STA depot-level maintenance and repair capability was needed.
A well-organized approach to repair parts inventory and required tooling needed to be developed to meet maintenance, MTBF and system downtime objectives. NGATS maintenance processes dictated the need to test, troubleshoot and repair the STA and test system in a field environment.
NGATS with STA Attached
The NGATS STA (Self Test Adapter) system utilizes the MAC Panel CTI system as the interface. The primary Defense Contractor on the project selected MAC Panel to provide the STA as a complete assembly.
The first three units of the project were prototypes to validate the design. Because they were prototypes, the internal connections had to have the capability to be easily removed / routed / repositioned. This requirement dictated all internal connections would be wire wrapped terminations (see prototype NGATS image below).
After the validation process was completed, MAC Panel was asked to productionize the internal connections.
Custom SCOUT XT as configured
A major US defense company was defining a new ATE system design that would capitalize on the high performance measurement and switching capability of the PXI platform, but also had the capability to integrate rack mounted LXI and GPIB instruments.
Measurement performance, signal integrity and stability were critical requirements for the ATE along with a need to use COTS components. Cost, as ever, would play a significant role in determining the most suitable solution.
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